The first bonsai organization in Rochester was called the Rochester Bonsai Society. The day after Wm. N. Valavanis returned home from his apprenticeship in Omiya Bonsai Village in 1972, several members broke off and formed the Rochester Bonsai Arts Group. The Bonsai Society of Upstate New York had an organizational meeting in October 1972 at the Valavanis home. So, at one time there were three bonsai organizations in Rochester, New York. The first two organizations could not compete with the Bonsai Society of Upstate New York and gradually faded away.
The club membership and budget continued to grow in size in the early 2000’s and it was decided that the group should become more official. In April 2016, the Bonsai Society of Upstate New York incorporated as an educational Not-For-Profit 501c(3). This change has also allowed members to donate materials and money to club in exchange for a tax write-off.